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100 Books for Sweetwaters
by iThemba Projects on 

Induna Ngcoye reads to his grandchildren at the iThemba PreschoolReading every day to children is a small thing that has massive impact on their futures! Research shows that quality Early Childhood Education is critical for the future success of individual kids and our nation as a whole. Sweetwaters, South Africa is the community with the highest HIV prevalence rates in the world, and that's why we've focused on bringing quality ECD to this community. Reading with children is a little thing that has big impact-- it improves cognition, literacy, and gets kids ready for school! Through our mentoring programmes, we're partnering with 20 local creche teachers and 120 families to train parents and teachers in quality ECD methods. The problem? Parents and teachers can't read to their kids because they don't have books in isiZulu--their home language, and the language of their children. Our goal of 100 books for our partner creches and toy-lending library for families will make a significant step in bridging that gap!February is "Mother Tongue" month here in South Africa, and February 16th is "World Read Aloud Day"-- looks like the perfect month to set ourselves the goal of raising enough money to purchase 100 high quality isiZulu children's books for our ECD programmes! To donate towards this campaign, follow this link.

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Plotting Hope Together- ECD team
by iThemba Projects on 

Noxolo Ndlela and Chrissie Kritzinger from our ECD team were featured on the website "Good News SA". Be sure to check out the article by clicking this link! Chrissie and Nox  We're glad that Chrissie, our Vodacom Change the World Volunteer, can continue with us another year and assist Nox, Savvy, Lerato and Wendy as they bring quality ECD to kids in Sweetwaters.

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Happy Fathers Day!
by iThemba Projects on 

Nox at a parent-child playgroupPicture this: A community where the vast majority of young children do not live at home with both parents. A community where most men are uninvolved in their children's lives. When you ask moms how often a child sees their father, the answer is, "I don't even know where her father is right now."

Now picture this: Our home mentors spent the last 6 weeks leading a big campaign to get parents reading every day to their kids. At one home, the father (mom's boyfriend) was around, but completely uninvolved in his child's life and development. By the end of the 6-week reading campaign, this father was reading consistently to his two-year old child. He knew spending that time with his daughter was important, and he was proud of how excited she was to read with him. Happy belated father's day to all the fathers out there in Sweetwaters who are like this dad, and are taking an interest in their kid's lives. You are part of changing your community!

And special thanks to Chrissie and all at Vodacom Change the World, and our other partners for partnering with us so that we can bring this home-based ECD project to 120 families in Sweetwaters!  (photo: home mentor Nox at a parent-child playgroup)


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Chicken Stories, and a Centre of Excellence
by iThemba Projects on 

The iThemba Projects Preschool in Sweetwaters now has 29 children enrolled and receiving quality Early Childhood instruction. This area of Sweetwaters previously did not have any ECD facility. Chrissie Van Niekerk, Vodacom Change the World Volunteer with us, continues to lead this aspect of our work. “Last year was all about the push to get the preschool open,” says Chrissie. “Now my focus is on transforming the preschool into a true centre of excellence.” As a centre of excellence, the preschool will host trainings and support groups for teachers, as well as be a resource library and a place where local teachers can see quality ECD in action. The preschool is also currently the base for a toy-lending library for parents. This toy library has been stocked by generous donations from Epworth and other local schools. Through iThemba’s programmes, local parents are able to “check out” quality educational toys to use at home during the week. We're thankful to have this "change the world" volunteer with us! Be sure to check out Chrissie's lovely story on her blog about the little chicken who "moved in" to the iThemba Preschool over the holidays! We love what Chrissie says about ECD on her blog: "Imagine if the first 5 years of every child’s life, (the time during which 90% of brain growth is completed, by the way) can be filled with good, nutritious food… Imagine if they can all be stimulated at home, at quality ECD centres, their play and their wellbeing valued, the investment in their education being seen as the sound financial decision that it is… Imagine a world where we start at the very beginning, plotting the course to success…" Read more by clicking here.

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Giving a Year- Being a Leader
by iThemba Projects on 

We're thrilled to welcome three young men onto our staff team for 2016. These three guys, Xolani, Lungelo and Nqubeko, just graduated from high school and are giving a year of their lives to volunteer in Sweetwaters with iThemba! All three of them have been impacted by iThemba programmes: from kids camps to Life Groups to Khula teens club, and they've also been involved leading small groups at Saturday Kids Club (JKC) as Kids Crew leaders. They're all excited to invest in the lives of kids and teens in Sweetwaters, while being mentored one-on-one by iThemba staff.

We thought you'd want to get to know them a little better, so here's the scoop (pictured above L-R):

NQUBEKO: Also known as Lawrence, Nqubeko has been involved with iThemba for over 10 years! He joined Syvion's Life Group in 2006, and has also been going on iThemba camps since then. He's spent more than 5 years serving on Kids Crew (our teen volunteers). His goal for this year is to develop life skills in kids and teens in Sweetwaters, and teach them about God's word. His favorite food is curry and rice, and when it comes to soccer, he's a Pirate's fan.

LUNGELO: <<updating soon!>>

XOLANI: Xolani has been involved in iThemba programmes since 2010, and last year he was fully committed to Life Groups and helping lead JKC as a Kids Crew volunteer. His goal for this year is to come up with some creative new ideas to reach kids and teens in 2016 and help them enjoy themselves. His favorite food is chicken curry and when it comes to picking a soccer team, he goes with the Chiefs.

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